Where are the best cities to live in? And how does the UK fare?

2012 Vienna
2012 Vienna

An annual study of the best cities in the world has revealed that Vienna has the best qualify of life - for the third year in a row - combining the best of a safe environment, good schooling and healthcare, a strong economy, good housing, good public services, and being a pleasant place to live. Europe continues to dominate the top ten, but as ever the UK lags way behind.

The Mercer Quality of Living survey named the top ten as:

1. Vienna
2. Zurich
3. Auckland
4. Munich
5. Vancouver
6. Dusseldorf
7. Frankfurt
8. Geneva
9. Copenhagen
10 Sydney

Vienna benefits not only from being a safe, beautiful and easy city to live in, but also from its position geographically as the gateway to central Europe.

In 69th place, Prague is the highest ranking city in Central and Eastern Europe. At the other end of the spectrum, the lowest ranking cities in Europe are Kiev (176), Tirana (179), and Minsk (190).


UK cities, meanwhile, perform relatively poorly. London is just 39th, Edinburgh 46th, Birmingham 53rd, Glasgow 55th, Aberdeen 59th, and Belfast 64th.

London has never performed particularly well in this list - dragged down by air pollution, traffic congestion, climate, housing, and now personal safety.

When scoring for personal safety, Luxembourg was rated best, with Bern, Helsinki and Zurich all tied for second place. Baghdad and Damascus, by contrast, were listed as the least safe. The safest cities in the UK were ranked as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow - taking joint 44th place.

The attacks in Paris in 2015 have pushed the city ten places down the overall ranking to 37th, and it is now considered the 71st safest city to live in. Safety concerns have also depressed London's position - which is now the 72nd safest city to live in. Madrid is ranked 84th in terms of personal safety and Athens 124th.

How does the UK compare?

These poor performances put the UK well behind many of its European counterparts, as Austria is first (Vienna), Germany 4th (Munich), Switzerland 8th (Geneva), Denmark 9th (Copenhagen), the Netherlands 11th (Amsterdam), Luxembourg 19th, Sweden 19th (Stockholm), Belgium 21st (Brussels), Finland 30th (Helsinki), Norway 30th (Oslo), Ireland 33rd (Dublin), France 37th (Paris) and Spain joint 39th (Barcelona). London is just one place ahead of Italy (Milan) and two ahead of Portugal (Lisbon).

Elsewhere, Canada is better rather than the US - with Vancouver rated highest at 5, followed by Toronto (15) and Ottawa (17). The highest-rated city in the US is San Francisco at 28, followed by Boston (34) and Honolulu (35). New York is in 44th place. US cities tend to score particularly poorly for personal safety and crime.

Australia and New Zealand feature high up the list, with Auckland 3rd, Sydney 10th, Wellington 12th and Melbourne 15th. The region also rates well for personal safety.

Asia produces huge variations. Singapore remains the highest ranking city - at 26th, followed by Kuala Lumpur at 86th. In the Middle East Dubai has the highest ranking at 75, followed by Abu Dhabi (81).

Those countries down the bottom of the list, owe their position to war, with Baghdad last, followed by Bangui in the Central African Republic, Sana's in Yemen, Port-au-Prince in Haiti, Khartoum in Sudan, N'Djamena in Chad, and Damascus in Syria.

Startup Hires Vienna's Homeless as Tour Guides
Startup Hires Vienna's Homeless as Tour Guides